Friday, November 28, 2014

Ten Ways on How to Avoid the Buy, Buy, Buy...

Ten Ways on How to Avoid the Buy, Buy, Buy...

Today is Black Friday (Nov. 28, 2014 - the day after Thanksgiving in the US).  It's also notorious for the herd mentality buy, buy, buy day where people are trampled on for latest televisions, computers, and toys.  To me, it's depressing.  

This morning, a BBC article, 'Black Friday': Police Called to Supermarket Crowds, was a bleak read for me.  This day and concept has now spread to the UK (where my husband is from, where I have lived, and my in-laws still live).

So how best to avoid this unfettered materialism run amok??  How to avoid that herd mentality?  How to avoid the emotional tugs of needing the latest and greatest?  

Since the spring/summer, I have been doing much research and reading about zero waste and refining my purge and resistance techniques.  I think I've come up with some ideas.  

1.  Avoid as much media advertisement as possible.  This is easier said than done.  Even in dentist or doctor waiting rooms, there's usually magazines, such as People or Family Fun, with pages chockfull of holiday ads. 

2.  If possible, limit or ban television.  We've been television-free for a little over a year now.  We don't regret it for a second.  My son watches videos online and can successfully avoid being a captive advertiser's victim.  

3.  AVOID shopping malls and big-box retail shops as much as humanly possible (preferably at all times, not just the holidays).  If you actually need to buy some socks for your child/ren, then try to shop when you're pressed for time in one retail store, such as Target, and not subject yourself to impulse buying.  Browse in a library NOT with retail therapy.

4.  Consider shopping at charity, thrift or consignment stores instead of hitting the mall.  If you shop at a charity or thrift store, it's often a double win situation where you and the charity benefits.  You help others and the environment when you shop at charity and thrift stores, as well as your wallet.

5.  Donate to charity.  Clean out the cupboards.  Remove the 'junk' from your home.  Simplify your home and lifestyle.  You'll feel refreshed and invigorated when you do.

6.  Read, listen, or watch about the Zero Waste movement.  Embrace the motto:  refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot.  

7.  Read, listen, or watch The Story of Stuff or about Garbage-ology.  Let's face it.  We all have mounds of stuff in our home.

8.  Visit a museum or attend a cultural event instead of giving a gift.  The Nutcracker Ballet is a popular cultural event during the holidays around my neck of the woods.

9.  Make a gift or create something homemade.  DIY lip balms, lotions, teas, cough drops or anything else.  My grandmother and great-grandmother would knit entire designer Barbie doll collection clothes and accessories for the holidays as well as mittens, hats, scarves, and sweaters.  

10.  Pinterest!!!  Best site for crafts, DIY, hobbies, and anything else.  No one said you had to come up with a flurry of brilliant recipes or ideas for fairy houses.  With Pinterest, however, there are plenty of people who do and then post for others.  So if you are tapped out of ideas or hard pressed for what to do with old sweaters, turn to Pinterest.  You can search under a subject/s (ie. DIY) or for a specific item like no-bake pumpkin cups.   You can also follow someone's board.  You'd be amazed how many cleaver people and cleaver ideas are posted there.  And your wallet will be amazed too. 

This post was written as part of Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop series. Follow Hoagies Gifted on Facebook and join the conversation on how to keep holiday focus on what matters to us. Hop to the next blog in this blog hop clicking on the button below

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kaleidoscope Eyes and the Quantum 2E Revolutions

Kaleidoscope Eyes and the Quantum 2E Revolutions

During the last nine, ten years, it has been dizzying and exhilarating, both for the Gifted Homeschool Forum (GHF) and for me personally with my 2e son.  Since my son was born nine years ago and GHF was founded ten years ago, there have been many quantum leaps.  The sheer volume and variety of educational, technological, and social networking opportunities have been nothing short of astounding.   The changes for 2e children in particular have been nothing short of breathtaking.

Nine, ten years ago, Yahoo support groups were available when GHF was founded and a year later when my son was born.  Fortunately, I found a couple of Yahoo support groups to help me with my son's special needs shortly after he was born.  I needed help and support and I needed it immediately too.  Time has not on my side.  I knew that there had to be at least one other person in the country who had to find specialists, therapists, and treatments.  So I googled.  I then began a search and a very long journey.  And what a journey that it has been.

I cannot begin to tell you how much those Yahoo support groups meant for me personally or ultimately meant for my son.  To find and hear from another mother with a baby in my shoes at the time was priceless.  Since then, I've continued to be a member of one of the Yahoo support groups and offer my support and guidance to others.  I know the emotional pain and journey that many mothers face.  Without that Yahoo support group I would never have found out that there were indeed other mothers like me with a wide range of conflicted emotions and who were struggling to cope and make heads and tails of the situation.  I would never have found the courage to seek or have gotten the help that my son needed.  I would never have found that ONE doctor in the country who doesn't dismiss what mothers like me know and have to say.  I would never have found half the confidence or knowledge in making some of the tough decisions which we made.  A revolution had certainly begun, I thought.

With a Yahoo support group, I had educated myself on my son's special needs from other mothers and became a kind of expert and authority over time by default.  Before my son was born, I had never heard of my son's special needs.  I had no preparation for it.  I had no medical training and I hadn't even taken a science course since high school some 30+ years ago.  Yet here I was:  a new (but older) mother in New York City fielding advice from other mothers across the country (and world) via the internet on how best to treat and manage my son's special needs and find the proverbial needle in the haystack in terms of professionals, therapies, and treatments.  It was simply incredible.

As I had become pregnant with my son in February 2005 (and GHF was was a few months old), YouTube was being founded and another revolution would soon ensue in four to five years when millions of videos and content became downloaded overnight.  Of course, little did I know or even hazard to guess when YouTube came out in February 2005 that I'd have a movie clip of my four-year-old son trying to strum a guitar while watching a YouTube video clip of Luciano Pavarotti and Eric Clapton singing a duet of the song, Holy Mother; the video clip was a recording of the duo which they had performed at a benefit concert in 1996.

With that YouTube video clip (and soon countless others to follow), I witnessed a more accessible, personalized type of learning for my son at home with the internet.  Since my son was born with special needs and was in speech therapy at the time in January 2010, the video clip of Pavarotti and Clapton reached my son in ways that speech therapy could never do.  Music bridged the gap and seemed to work miracles.  My son watched Pavarotti and Clapton intently.  He studied the music, the lyrics, their faces, their body language, their overall demeanor (not to dismiss Clapton's guitar playing!), and everything else it seemed.

At that point in January 2010, my son was four and in a special needs pre-kindergarten program in New York City.  He was not identified as gifted, though he was considered 'bright.'  I had had to enroll him in a special needs pre-kindergarten program after nearly going to court with the New York City Board of Education over his physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Privately, he was receiving vision therapy and feeding therapy (and that's a whole other discussion for another time).

Within a year of my son watching that Pavarotti and Clapton YouTube video clip, though, I had an epiphany.  By then, my son was five years old; we had moved (back) to Massachusetts; we had withdrawn my son from a special needs pre-kindergarten program in a public school and placed him in a private gifted school.  We felt and had 'evidence' of our son being gifted.  We had decided that he needed much more than a special needs pre-kindergarten program could or would ever be able to provide.  At the private gifted school, however, where we had found a slot for my son, the curriculum seemed stuck and suddenly seemed dated to me within a sort time.  The math curriculum consisted of workbooks and rote math facts and drills.  It wasn't too different from the math curriculum that I had experienced as a child over 35+ years ago.

At home my son had been intently watching video clips from PBS's Cyberchase and picking up far more advanced mathematical terms and concepts than what was being covered in the private gifted school.  I knew then that life had fundamentally changed and my son would be part of a groundbreaking generation.  Although Sesame Street was televised soon after I was born and millions had viewed man's first step on the moon, the ability to travel virtually and metaphysically across time and space with digital technology seemed to come at warp speed and was unlike any previous generation had ever experienced as little ones.  Even more staggering, my son's generation's is able to digitally connect with others and not be solely passive recipients to technology.

Today, my 2e son is being un/homeschooled and the educational opportunities seem endless.  Ten years ago, there was no iPod, no iPhone, no iPad, no Facebook, no Minecraft, no Khan, no Ted-Ed or TEDx, no edX, and no World Science U, of course: no nothing it seems now in hindsight! Though my son is an avid, voracious reader, his learning is not restricted to the printed word or a textbook or a set curriculum.  If he likes, he can take a GHF course, watch a BBC documentary, or find out how to make volcanoes with Pinterest.  If he wants to learn how to speak Icelandic or about the history of indigenous Torres Strait Islanders, he can.  He can learn at his own pace and rate.  He can follow his interests.  His learning has become more three-dimensional.  It's more personal and individualized.  At the moment, such learning would be impossible in a public or private school in our neck of the woods.

Such learning also would not have been so easy or effortless ten years ago or without GHF's help. Before I could even to contemplate un/homeschooling my son, I had to google again and find support groups.  I had to hear from other parents, especially mothers, that I wasn't totally crazy.  I needed to hear from another mother that: 1) I could un/homeschool my son and not totally lose my mind and 2) potentially address the special needs more effectively and efficiently by un/homeschooling and didn't necessarily need an army of therapists or teachers/tutors either.

Since I started un/homeschooling three years ago, I've been educating myself on giftedness with GHF's help and have become skilled at my son's giftedness too.  I've found other 2e mothers and gained an amazing amount of knowledge and insight from them.  I've had the comfort of knowing that GHF is there and that there have been others who have been through a similar journey or more like journeys.  I can spot the traits of giftedness and know the many struggles that mothers often face: the identification journey, the public/private school journey, and the social/emotional journey.

If I ever get stuck with finding educational opportunities, needing support, or finding a child like my son, GHF is there.  If I need a grain-free food recipe suggestion, a therapy tip, or a DIY craft or bar of soap, GHF connects me with Pinterest and numerous resources.  If I need to find a professional to consult, GHF provides a social network or a list or a contact.  If I ever need to link a parent's face to their words, GHF's Facebook page is there.  In this respect, GHF is actually improving my life and no doubt the lives of many other people as well.  It's really an exciting time to un/homeschool and be a part of GHF.  Viva la quantum 2e revolutions!

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's Tenth Year Anniversary and blog hop Finding Your  For more of GHF's blog hops, see